Wicked Princess Page 1


I gesture to the shoebox containing my new ballet slippers. “Are you sure you got the right ones?”

If they aren’t the same exact ones Julianna has, it will only give her more ammo to make fun of me.

Mom sighs heavily as she brings her cell phone to her ear and hands the lady at the counter her credit card. “Positive.”

She’s been on edge more than usual today.

Probably because of the fight she had with my older brother Cole this morning.

Evidently, he wanted to join the peewee football team, but Mom told him no because he’s failing all his tests at school.

Annoyed, I look at Cole’s twin, Liam.

“Why does Cole always have to ruin everything?”

I expect him to agree because Cole irritates him even more than he irritates me, but Liam simply shrugs.

Thanks to Cole starting with Mom and putting everyone in a bad mood, everything felt off today.

I didn’t like it.

“Can we get some ice cream?”

Liam wrinkles his nose in disgust.

He claims ice cream is too cold and should be banished from the planet.

I wholeheartedly disagree.

“Come on,” I groan, turning my annoyance on him. “I stopped eating meat for you, don’t make me give up ice cream too.”

Three months ago, he decided he wanted to become a vegan in order to save animals. However, he soon realized he loved cheese too much, so he settled on becoming a vegetarian instead.

Because I love him—and because the video he made me watch of cows being slaughtered gave me nightmares—I agreed to join him.

But ice cream is where I draw the line.

Liam crosses his arms defiantly. “It’s too co—”

“No, it’s not—”

“Would the two of you stop fighting,” our mother snaps as she hastily signs the receipt and throws her phone in her purse. “We are not getting ice cream.”


“But, Mom—”

“Bianca, please.” She gestures to the shopping bags full of leotards. “One more word out of you and so help me God, I’ll return everything I just bought.”

My mouth drops open in shock.

Not only was it her idea to go to the mall today for my new ballet slippers and leotards—she never, ever yelled at me.

Although she loved all her children, it was well known that I was her favorite, and Liam was a close second.

Ever since I could remember, the three of us always had a strong connection.

As if on cue, Liam reaches for my hand.

Cole could be such a big, fat jerk sometimes.

Some days he was so mean she’d end up staying in her bedroom for days at a time.

She claimed she was sick, but we all knew better.

Mom wasn’t sick. She was sad.

Too bad Jace—our oldest brother—wasn’t here.

He always knew the right things to say and what to do.

Given our father was at work all the time, it felt like Jace was more of a dad to me than our actual father was.

However, I only had one mom…and right now she was mad at me.

Which made me sad.

Her expression softens when she looks at me again. “Bianca.”

No. This wasn’t fair.

I wasn’t like Cole. I never told her I hated her or fought with her.

I always told her I loved her…because she’s my favorite person.

I thought I was hers too.

Unclasping my hand from Liam’s, I storm out of the store.

“Bianca, come back here,” she yells behind me, but I pick up my pace.

In one fell swoop, she grabs my arm. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re not my favorite person anymore,” I inform her through tears.

“You don’t mean that, baby girl.”

She was right. I didn’t.

Our bond was unbreakable.

But still, the way she treated me before hurt. A lot.

Like Liam, I was sensitive too. Only unlike him, I didn’t put my weakness on display.

Because my mother told me I needed to be strong.

Stronger than she was.

Spinning me around, she wipes my tears away with her hand. “I love you.”

I look down at the floor, unwilling to meet her gaze. “Love you too.”

The wall of ice I built thaws as she wraps her arms around me.

She always smelled like warm vanilla and coconut, and her hugs were the best thing in the world.

Like a cocoon.

“You still want that ice cream?”

I nod, clinging to her like a koala.

Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Liam sulking.

I loved my brother more than anything, but he had this annoying habit of wanting everyone to conform to his way of thinking.

Deep down, I knew it was because of his anxiety, but sometimes I ran out of patience.

My mom always understood it though.

Nine times out of ten she was able to stop Liam’s meltdowns before they happened.

She untangles one arm from around me and places it around him. “We’ll get you some pancakes too, baby. Okay?”

Pancakes were Liam’s favorite. But only the first two in the stack.

According to him, the rest are never as fluffy and they don’t taste as good. Weirdo.

Fortunately, Liam agrees. “Fine.”

Mom stands up. “Let’s haul these bags out to the car and head to the waffle house down the street.”

I start to protest, but she adds, “They serve ice cream there too, Bianca.”

Yeah, but not the soft serve kind.

Whatever. I’d deal.

We start walking, but she pauses abruptly, glancing at her watch. “Shi—shoot.”


“I need to stop at the school first.”

Liam and I eye one another.


“So she can sign Cole up for football,” Liam declares with a sour expression.

“But I thought you told him no?”

She pinches the bridge of her nose. “He really wants this. I’ve never seen him so—you know what? I’m the mom and what I say goes. I’m signing your brother up for football.”

Liam snorts. “You know he’ll be bored in a week.”

Liam was right. Cole had a tendency to drop out of things quickly.

Mom ruffles his hair. “Well, if he does, maybe you can take his place.”

Liam looks at her like she sprouted another head as we make our way to the car. “Never. Sports are the worst.”

Mom laughs. “They aren’t so bad.” There’s a gleam in her eye when she looks at me. “Who knows, maybe you can be a cheerleader one day just like your mama.”


“There are cheerleaders in India?” Liam and I ask at the same time.

She laughs again. “Of course there are. Granted, they don’t dress like the cheerleaders in America, but—”

The sound of her phone ringing cuts her off.

“Hold that thought,” she says, bringing her cell to her ear. “It’s your father.”

I make mock kissy noises.

My dad might be gone at work a lot, but there’s no denying how much he loves her.

He had flowers and chocolates delivered to her almost every day last week.

Liam pouts. “I wish Dad would let us go to India.”

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